Despite a clever premise, Spy Kids 3D is more gimmick than good. This third instalment in the series focuses on Juni (Daryl Sabara), the youngest member of the Cortez spy clan, who has recently left the family business for a career as a private detective. Juni is convinced to return to the spy game upon learning that his sister, Carmen (Alexa Vega), has been trapped inside a videogame developed by the evil Toymaster (an over-the-top Sylvester Stallone).
The Toymaster has designed the much-hyped Game Over to take over the minds of the children playing it, thus paving the way for his dastardly plot for world domination. Juni, with the help of his wheelchair-bound grandfather (Ricardo Montalban), has to enter the world of the videogame and successfully play it in order to free his sister and save the children of the planet.
The bulk of the film takes place in the three-dimensional realm of Game Over, requiring the use of those nostalgia-inducing 3D cardboard glasses to properly view the multitude of visual effects that are constantly thrown at you. Building the plot around a videogame format, where the characters have to win level upon level of highly designed challenges, sacrifices certain dramatic elements of story and content by embracing a setting where anything is possible and the problems therefore seem easily overcome.
While staying true to one of the main ideas behind the Spy Kids franchise, that of empowering youth by making them the driving force behind these missions of global significance, Spy Kids 3D also tries to force the usual moral lesson about the importance of family. This lesson was sweet and well-integrated in the previous films, but here, where the parents don't even show up until the final minutes of the movie, it just seems tacked-on and out of place. (Alliance Atlantis)